New in the Lucas Mansion Gallery: Pottery by Virginia Hurley and Exhibit Honoring the Life and Legacy of Allen Hines

To begin the New Year, the Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center’s Lucas Mansion Gallery (316 Hiddenite Church Road) will feature new exhibits by potter and Alexander County resident, Virginia Hurley, and historical collections honoring the Civil Rights era service of the late Allen Hines.

“Martha and Allen Hines have always been dear friends of the Center and it is our great privilege to honor his memory and pay tribute to his extraordinary service to our country, said Director of Communications, Miranda Burgin.

A reception celebrating the life and legacy of Allen Hines is set for Sunday, January 27, 2019  from 3m -4:30pm in the Lucas Mansion Gallery. The reception is free to attend and all are welcome.

Virginia Hurley currently lives in her hometown of Bethlehem, North Carolina.

A reception honoring her exhibit will be held on February 3, 2019 from 3pm – 4:30pm in the Lucas Mansion Gallery. All exhibited works are available for purchase. Light refreshments will be served and all are welcome to attend. The show marks the Center’s first exhibition of exclusively Raku fired pieces.

Raised in a small town she was always attracted to art and creation. She had a strong interest in architecture and engineering from a young age wishing to make things that would endure for future generations. In high school she had an introduction to ceramics that led her to seek out more knowledge about the medium. With help from her family she was running a public casting studio and ceramic shop at the age of 16. She learned much about firing and casting in this time along with a strong understanding of small business ownership.

Hurley was accepted into the UNC Charlotte College of Architecture though changed her major after finding her love was in creating more than designing for others. She focused on Ceramics with a close interest in glaze and throwing in her program and completed her studies with a BA in Ceramics in 2008.

“Pottery has always had an element of flame involved in the work,” said Hurley. “From the gas kiln to the pit fire all are using heat and flame to make alchemy, by turning clay into a stone. However no process of fire involvement is as dramatic or magical for me as Raku. Though the process has changed from its origins long ago the idea of making something beautiful while allowing nature to have a final say in the look of the work, is still evident.

Prior to graduation she was invited to teach ceramics at the local YMCA working often with underprivileged and special needs youth and the deaf community. This passion for working with those that may otherwise have missed out on art followed her to Salt Lake City, Utah while she worked in the Public School System as an art instructor for extended education programs and with special needs work facilities.

Once she returned to North Carolina she was able to take the experiences she had gathered to assist in opening a small studio with a family member along with building her own personal studio, and offering classes through the Hickory Museum of Art. She was able to receive a grant to assist and educate local middle and high school teachers on safe and effective firing method and the use of their kilns for the betterment of students.

“I love to have control of much of my work from the clay making process to alteration and making of glazes,” Hurley went on to say. “However the act of Raku takes much of that control out of my hands. It is freeing, yet terrifying.”

“Each piece must go through what all bisque ware does in an electric kiln to harden,” Hurley explained. “Only to be glazed and placed into a gas fire and heated in a very fast and shocking manner to its final temperature in a matter of minutes rather than hours. While still glowing removed next it is to be placed into a container of flammable material. Once the flames have subsided this once mound of formed clay has become something unique and beautiful. From the ashes of man made flame a piece of artwork emerges like a phoenix rising from the dusty refuge to show itself in all it’s glory. “